We weathered the storm – the Del Ray microburst of 2010

We got a good scare yesterday here in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA. A front was coming through and we were expecting our usual summer thunderstorms. Instead, we now have firsthand knowledge of what a microburst is (sudden series of very strong gusts downward from a storm and then, at ground level, outward). The local high school clocked a 70+ MPH gust. Trees and limbs are down everywhere and there is a great deal of damage. Here are some photos from immediately around our house.

Thankfully our family and house are fine.

The scare extended to the skin-on-frame outrigger canoe project, which readers will know to be going on outside, on the west side of the house. Of course the burst came from… the west. My wife called me at the office and said “I have to break it to you – your boat is all over the yard.” Ooooppphhhh. I walked home, imagining what I would find and ponder strategies to salvage various cases. What I found was this:

Our boatyard, post storm

Skin-on-frame outrigger canoe, after the storm“Oh,” I thought, “that doesn’t look too bad.” And it wasn’t. In fact, I have yet to see ANY signs of damage to the skin-on-frame boat (I have found an inconsequential nick on the ama). That this is so is truly amazing. The big, heavy Peace Canoe, PEACE OF THE PUZZLE, was right up against the fence on saw horses, upside down, bow to the back of the yard. I found it upright, 10 feet further into the yard, bow to the front. As best I can figure, I went end-over-end through the air (it only has minor damage). Patting myself on the back for its construction! In doing so, it missed the skin-on-frame boat, which was right next to it, and which somehow ended up farther towards the fence. They somehow crossed paths and didn’t hit, nor did the light skin-on-frame frame go flying into the house and shatter, as my wife led me to think (the tarp on it may have secured it just enough). Bullet = dodged.

Thank goodness I have made as much progress as I have on the boat. I fear of the ribs had still been clamped to the outwales or if the stems weren’t fully attached to the longitudinals I might have had a mess. Instead, my boat has weathered her first storm and done so proudly. I think this success comes down to the skin-on-frame medium itself. Heck, I am a novice with it, and I have constructed a partial frame that has the flexibility to withstand being tossed around who knows how much. That “give” in the structure is an amazing innovation from centuries ago. I am excited to be carrying it on in this age where we try to build things rigid enough to beat down the sea as opposed flexing with it. Now I am REALLY eager to get this boat out in a swell and see how it works in its true element.

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